Friday, June 13, 2014

Accelerated "3+3" Paths to Law Degree Approved in Ohio

  As was announced late last year, under the recently adopted amendments to Rule I of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio, applicants for admission to the practice of law in Ohio would only be required to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university before admission to the practice of law rather than before admission to law school, and the Supreme Court alerted Ohio college and university presidents “ that the decision as to whether to offer a “3+3 program” lies with Ohio’s law schools, colleges, and universities. The amendments allow for the possibility of "3+3 programs" in Ohio since no Ohio law school offers one currently.”

  The University of Dayton School of Law has become known nationally for innovative programs like its forerunning legal research and writing curriculum, the Legal Profession Program; one of the nation’s first law and technology programs; and an accelerated J.D. program that allows students to graduate in two years, which is a bit different. [ See Wikipedia re “Accelerated JD programs” and “University of Dayton School of Law” for more information]

   In any event, that outreach of “3+3 programs” in the state is now about to be case apparent with Court News Ohio this morning reiterating that the amendments in question go into effect July 1st.

Access to amendments

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court hearing traffic cameras case

   A article related the Ohio Supreme Court’s this morning hearing the appeal by the City of Toledo and its camera vendor of  rulings favoring of a motorist who sued over a 2009 camera-generated ticket, charging that  city's administrative handling of tickets was unconstitutionally bypasses the court system.

  Toledo contends that the camera systems are allowed under local self-governing powers provided by the Ohio Constitution, and that motorists still have the ability to take their cases to the courts.

 The motorist, Bradley  Walker, was cited for a civil violation of Toledo's photo enforced traffic code, was issued a "Notice of Liability," and conceded in his initial complaint that the "Notice” provides a twenty-one (21) day period to request a hearing on the "Notice,” which he opted not to pursue and instead paid the $120 fine assessed. [Court's docket]

  Toledo’s traffic camera ordinance [TMC §313.12(d)], court documents show, specify the penalty, administrative appeal and enforcement provisions, Section (d)(4), specifically providing that "A notice of appeal shall be filed with the Hearing Officer within twenty-one (21) days from the date listed on the `Notice of Liability', and failure to give notice of appeal or pay the civil penalty within this time period constitute a waiver of the right to contest the citation and are considered an admission. Appeals shall be heard through an administrative  process established by the City of Toledo Police Department. A decision in favor of the City of Toledo may be enforced by means of a civil action, or any other means provided by the Ohio Revised Code."

  Walker filed a complaint in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on February 24, 2011 on behalf of himself and "those similarly situated," seeking return of all monies that the City and Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. had collected under Toledo's traffic camera enforcement system, alleging that TMC § 313.12 was unconstitutional for a variety of reasons, most significantly that TMC § 313.12 improperly deprived the Toledo Municipal Court of jurisdiction thereby violating Ohio Constitution Art. IV, § 1 and  was invalid under the theory that it failed to afford him and similarly situated individuals due process and equal protection under the Constitutions of the State of Ohio and United States. Neither  defendant  answered Walker's complaint nor was discovery undertaken in the case.

  Lucas County Common Pleas Court granted the City's and Redflex's motions to dismiss, specifically rejecting Walker’s arguments that Toledo Municipal Code §313.12 was an invalid delegation of the administrative process or that such process violated due process or equal protection under the United States and State of Ohio's Constitutions. The trial court also held that Ohio Revised Code § 1901.20 does not give the "Toledo Municipal Court exclusive jurisdiction over violations issued pursuant to Toledo Municipal Code §313.I2.

 Walker appealed, and on June 28, 2013 a divided panel of the Sixth District reversed the trial court's grant of dismissal, the majority opining, inter alia, that R.C. § 1901.20 vested municipal courts with exclusive jurisdiction over violations of all City ordinances and, therefore, TMC § 313.12 "violates Ohio Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, and is therefore a nullity." The majority further ruled that Walker's due process challenge was at least sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.

  The matter was remanded and the trial court has stayed proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal.

  Toledo says “It is well established that the City has home rule authority under the Ohio Constitution  ArticIe XVIII, Section 3. Mendenhall v. Akron, 117 Ohio St.3d 33, 2008-Ohio-270, 881 N.E.2d 255, and pursuant to its constitutionally granted home rule authority, the City possesses broad legislative powers. State ex rel. Gordon v. Rhodes,  156 Ohio St. 81, 100 N.:C:.2d 225 (1951)….  legislation adopted pursuant to the City's home rule powers is presumed to be constitutional Hudson v. AIbrecht,  9 Ohio St.3d 69,71, 458 N.E.2d 852 (1984), and this presumption can only be overcome by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.   State v. Lowe, 11.2 Ohio St.3d 507, 2007-Ohio-606, 861 N.E.2d 512, 17, citing Klein v. Leis,  99  Ohio St.3d 37, 2003-Ohio-4779, 795 N.E.2d 633, T 4. The City's home rule authority extends to the authority to establish administrative boards, commissions, and hearings. See  Willoughby Hills v. C.C. Bar's Sahara,   64 Ohio St.3d 24, 1992 Ohio 111. 591 N.E.2d 1203.”

   Walker’s position is that “Under Article IV, Section 1, the General Assembly has the exclusive power to create courts  and define their jurisdiction, and, therefore, charter municipalities do not have home-rule power to regulate a court's jurisdiction, citing  Cupps v. Toledo, 170 Ohio St. 144, 163 N.E.2d 384 (1959), and, as of 1959, this issue is "settled by the decisions of this court… If a court's jurisdiction would be different under an ordinance than it is under a statute enacted by the General Assembly, then the ordinance is unconstitutional…"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rules Addressing Representation of Indigent Defendants in Ohio

 The Supreme Court’s news service, posts that attorneys wanting to be appointed by a court to represent indigent defendants in capital cases must apply for certification from the Committee on the Appointment of Counsel for Indigent Defendants in Capital Cases, and to be certified by the committee as trial lead counsel, trial co-counsel, or appellate counsel, attorneys must meet certain qualifications and possess specific practice experience.  Those rules are in the process of being changed with the Supreme Court proposing alteration of some of those qualifications.

   Under rules being proposed rules, experience as lead counsel in a jury trial of at least one murder or aggravated murder case must have occurred within the past 10 years, and the committee recommended expanding the time frame from three to five years for experience as trial lead counsel in three aggravated or first or second degree felony jury trials in a court of common pleas. Experience in 10 or more criminal or civil jury trials, at least three of which were felony jury trials, will no longer suffice as qualifying experience for lead counsel.

  Proposed rule changes that address co-counsel qualifications include:
Similar to the lead counsel provision, new rules would require co-counsel previous experience to have occurred within the last 10 years in at least one murder or aggravated murder jury trial.
The committee recommended expanding the necessary experience for co-counsel to second-degree felony jury trials but limiting the experience to either a first (current rule) or second-degree felony jury trial within the past five years.
The committee also recommended expanding the “look-back period” for co-counsel experience – either as lead or co-counsel in at least two felony jury, but not civil jury trials in common pleas court – to five years.
 Access the text of the proposed amendments here.

Those wishing to comments  should  do so by July 9 in writing to:
Susan Christoff, Attorney Services Division Director
 Supreme Court of Ohio
 65 S. Front St., Fifth Floor
 Columbus, Ohio 43215
 Or via e-mail including your name and address to 

Revised Ohio Probate Forms

   The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday morning announced  it has approved amendments to New Form 7.0(A) (Notice to Administrator of Medicaid Estate Recovery) with language added due to public comment that makes it clear the forms should be filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which administers the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program in Ohio, and in use since June 1. Updated Form 7.0 (Certification of Notice to Administrator of Medicaid Estate Recovery) would then be used by the estate administrator to notify the probate court that Form 7.0(A) has been filed.

 The Court is also taking public comment until July 9 on a proposed amendment to three  new and one existing probate forms:

Form 14 (Application to Approve Settlement and Distribution of Wrongful Death and Survival Claims) would be amended to include a check box allowing the practitioner to address any outstanding hospital or medical bills and indicate that an itemized statement is attached, and “other” checkbox and line to address any additional items the probate court may need to consider in determining the approval of the settlement.

Form 22. 5 (Application to Settle a Claim of an Adult Ward) would be a new standard probate form that practitioners may use when submitting an application for the settlement of a claim in favor of or against an adult ward pursuant to R.C. 2111.18 (claims for injury to a ward or damage to property; settlement) and Superintendence Rule 69 (settlement of claims of or against adult wards).
Form 22.6 (Entry Approve Settlement of a Claim of an Adult Ward) would serve as the order issued by the probate court to approve the settlement of a claim of an adult ward.
Form 22.7 (Report of Distribution) may be used by practitioners to provide the probate court with a breakdown of the distribution of the settlement proceeds and to confirm compliance with the court order approving the settlement of the claim of the adult ward.

  Comments should be submitted in writing to:
John VanNorman, Senior Policy and Research Counsel
 Ohio Supreme Court
 65 South Front Street, Seventh Floor Columbus, OH 43215

Text of language of the new and revised forms.